China does not have to ask anyone for respect, Ghana’s president says

Dominika Zarzycka | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Nana Akufo-Addo, president of Ghana, speaks at a press conference during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, England, on April 20, 2018.

Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo pinpointed China’s development story Saturday in a speech that promoted intra-African economic co-operation.

“China does not ask anyone for respect now,” he said, referring to foreign students’ enthusiasm for learning Mandarin as evidence of Beijing’s influence.

“We’ve run out of excuses for the state of our continent,” Akufo-Addo added, speaking at the London School of Economics. “If we work at it, if we stop being beggars, and spend Africa’s monies inside the continent, Africa will not need to ask for respect from anyone.”

China’s influence in Africa is more nuanced than simply providing loans and building infrastructure. Ethiopia — among the world’s fastest growing economies with gross domestic product (GDP) expansion at 10.9 percent in 2017 — espouses a China-style state-led development model, for example.

Akufo-Addo also extolled African unity as a means of generating economic prosperity.

“Africa is losing annually more than $50 billion United States dollars through illicit financial outflows,” he said, referring to a United Nations report led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. “The dispiriting part of the story, of course, is the fact that some Africans are complicit.

“It is clear that we are not well-equipped to cope with those who come to conduct business in our countries with the aim of making extraordinary returns through unorthodox and illegal means.”

Akufo-Addo also highlighted the importance of a nascent pan-African free trade agreement proposed by the African Union.

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